Monday, December 19, 2011

One Man Army. Cor! : EQ2

There are several super-hero MMOs. I played in the CoH beta which seems like a hundred years ago now. Then there's Champions Online, which I played for a whole weekend when it went F2P. And DCUO, of course. Still playing there once in a while.

If I really want to be a superhero, though, I don't go to any of those.  I fire up EQ2, log in a high-level character and head to the Chronomages.
Can't we at least get a counter?
Ah, the Chronomages! Just who are these mysterious men in robes? They appeared out of nowhere one day and set up shop in the great cities, offering a new and wonderful service. Before they appeared, if you wanted to lower your level you had to find an actual person who was already the level you wanted to be and actually group with them in the actual place you wanted to adventure! I know! How primitive was that?!

The Chronomages know a better way. It's taken them a lifetime to master, but they have acquired the magic of time and it's powerful. They'll tell you that much if you ask nicely. They aren't so lippy about why they've chosen to use this powerful magic to start a dockside novelty goods business but everyone's got to earn a living and quilted robes don't come cheap.

Build a collection your whole family will envy
For the nominal fee of 5 gold pieces (and a hundred status points, which you can acquire by killing the odd goblin or small verminous animal on behalf of the authorities) the Chronomages will reduce you to any level lower than where you are now, providing it ends in a zero or a five. They're pernickety that way. It's a mage thing.

They seem to think they are sending you back in time, what with the whole chrono vibe they have going on, but it's more like they condense you until you become as hard as a diamond. You keep all your gear and abilities, all your AAs, everything. Only now it's supposed to have been scaled down.

Actual Level 30
90 mentored 30
The numbers are smaller, it's true. But in many, most of the places where the numbers go an actual character of that level might have no numbers at all. The upshot is a level 90 mentored to level 30 isn't just a superhero, he's Superman. And there's no Kryptonite on Norrath.  As a mentored-down level 90 you can pull several rooms full of goblins in a level 30 dungeon and sort your bags while you riposte them to death. Or you could just fire a few AEs and finish them off in seconds.Chance of you getting hurt? Zero.

I'm in there somewhere
I'm not complaining about this. Far from it. It's a whole lot of fun and extremely useful for farming all kinds of things. Provided the player is sensitive to the circumstances of other people trying to use open dungeons or better yet restricts his superheroing to instances, then it's a perfectly acceptable part of EQ2 play. Chronomagic as it currently features should definitely stay in the game for soloists. What it isn't any use at all for, though, is grouping with other people.

Yes, your level 80 character can nominally drop to the right level to group with your friend who just started and wants to go to Fallen Gate for the first time. Just so he doesn't expect to do anything. He doesn't even get to play Robin to your Batman. That would at least be an adventure. No, he gets to be Jimmy Olsen to your Superman. The most he can do is take some photos and try not to get killed by flying golem parts. Oh, and pick up the loot. Always need someone along for that.

Stand back and leave it to me
EQ2 needs a proper mentoring system. One where you can drop to the effective level of your partners, not just the numerical. And voila, here comes Age of Discovery to offer us something that does allow players of wildly differing levels to play together on exactly equal terms: the Dungeon Maker. It's also far from ideal, but at least it's a move in the right direction.

Turn him over, he's almost done
With the coming of the Age of Discovery a level 90 in full raid gear can group with a level 5 on his first morning if they choose to do a player-made dungeon together. As soon as they zone in they will each be level 50. They'll have a range of custom avatars to choose from, each of which has four abilities. Takes about ten seconds to work out who does what and off you go. But you aren't you and that's going to be a problem long-term.

The Dungeon Maker is a great addition to the game and has huge potential, some of which you can already see being fulfilled, but it's still not a way to group your character in a meaningful way with your friend's much lower character. That's a nut that still needs to be cracked.

More on the Dungeon Maker next time.


  1. Does it work better if you underlevel deliberately (say 5 levels below the helpee)?

    I love the concept of this but since I mainly solo in EQ2 haven't tried it yet. Regardless I would love an attempt at this system for WoW or Rift as it's a royal pain always being the wrong level to group with friends. No doubt SWTOR will suffer from the same problem, why aren't other developers learning from Sony's experiment?

  2. I haven't tried going under the level of a much lower partner. Usually when mentoring with an actual player, although you might arrive chronoed down you'd re-mentor to the player or group, which makes you their exact level and also lets you level up along with them. If you do this, both you and the player you are mentoring get an XP bonus whereas when you are chronoed you get a penalty.

    I might try it and see if it makes any difference. I am guessing that , if anything, it might just make it a bit harder to hold agro as you'd get more resists.


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